ABC 0-5 for Mothers

About Boys Course (ABC 0-5)

abc_smallABC 0-5 aims to provide parents with an opportunity to sift fact from fiction (in terms of issues such as whether boys need a father and whether boys might over-identify with their mothers), as well as strategies for encouraging and supporting their sons and learning ways to deal with boundaries and behaviour.

The course also aims to increase parents’ understanding of their son’s development and increase their confidence in dealing with their son’s behaviour and development.

 What parents say:

  • ‘I can now use the examples that were given. Through talking to him, using ‘no’ more often and controlling my tone, my parenting skills have proved effective.’
  • ‘I really enjoyed the course a lot. It made me realise a lot of things that I am aware of now. I appreciated the strategies of discipline and behaviour.’
  • ‘I feel this course has enabled me to understand many things about boys I previously had never thought of.’

Letter from a mum
I have a 3 year old boy who strops around like a teenager, doesn’t listen when I ask him to stop, Boys Development Projectand I can’t believe how angry he makes me, what can I do?

Some people of course will tell you he is going through the ‘terrible two’s’, although I think it is a bit more complicated than that. For starters there are certain things about boys that are important (this isn’t all boys of course, but what little you have told me probably yours).

1. Boys often walk before girls and girls often talk before boys. This means that a little girl might look at a climbing frame and ask ‘If I climb up there and fall off will I get hurt?’ A boy is more likely to want to find out for himself, climbing, falling off and crying ‘I hurt myself’ even if he has already been told what will happen.

2. The walking boys often learn by doing and therefore often take more risks. As soon as they can walk some want to go off and find out how the plug socket works; how bouncy the sofa is, and what you can see from the top of a ladder. The way these boys play and explore worries parents who spend more time asking boys to stop and get down than they do with talking girls.

3. We talk to girls when we want to discipline them and are much more likely to shout when we discipline boys. Some parents think that boys need firmer discipline and therefore don’t see shouting as a problem.

Boys Development Project4. Boys explore, and parents find themselves trying to discipline a boy from distance, which means speaking louder and sometimes shouting when they are some way away.

5. Active boys see the world as a playground, so the classroom, supermarket, train, or bus are opportunities to play. We think they should be aware that these places are not playgrounds, but boys don’t or don’t want to. If it isn’t a playground we have to teach them that it isn’t.
This means that boys often need firm and consistent boundaries. Some old-school parents will say ‘children need to know who’s boss,’ while others say ‘I think if you explain then they’ll do what you ask.’ Both of these approaches have their strengths, but they also have their weaknesses. There are times when explanation is right, but you need to be a parent (and firmer) when your boy needs it. Here are some techniques that might work for you:

Touch and Talk

If you want his attention, touch your son on the arm. Even if he looks away his ears will open. This isn’t a grip or a tug, just a touch.

Low and Slow

If you want him to listen to what you say, deepen your voice and slow down your speech. This is just low and slow, not aggressive or angry.

Fewer words

Whatever you want him to do, strip it down to as few words as possible without commentary. If you go from ‘I’ve asked you ten times to put those toys away, you’re doing my head in,’ to ‘TOYS AWAY PLEASE.’ This may seem harsh to you at first, but watch the results.

Right words Boys take words literally. If you say ‘you can walk on ahead’ without saying ‘near enough so you can hear me if I call,’ he will go further than you want. This will only increase, so get used to it now.

Know the rules

Boys often see the world as a playground, so if there are rules they need to be told them, and often more than once. Assume, for example, he doesn’t know how to behave in a supermarket, so tell him ‘here we walk,’ ‘the trolley is pushed slowly,’ ‘we put in the basket what is on the list.’

If you have liked this article, and want to know more, you will be interested in the booklet Discipline and Boys who are Under Five (a brief guide), see the resources page.

If you have questions about boys, please email them to

Two Booklets we will be producing in the coming months:
Boys talking, reading and writing
Boys and motivation

Be Sociable, Share!